November 15th, 2012

5 Reasons to Automate Sales Methodologies and Take Your Sales to the Next Level

Sales Methodology

5 Reasons to Automate Sales Methodologies and Take Your Sales to the Next Level

There comes a time when businesses grow and mature to the extent that it makes sense to ditch the informal ad hoc ways of a startup and standardize functions and processes. The freedom and flexibility of how work gets done is often favored over the negative-sounding corporate way of doing things, such as adopting company-wide systems and procedures.

True, each business unit, function, and location have subcultures within the overarching corporate culture that give those groups a tight-knit feeling and identity. However, they cannot be subordinate to or in conflict with the culture, goals, and objectives of the broader organization. That includes getting on board with new initiatives, such as automating a new sales methodology.

The figure below from Revegy, Richardson’s CRM enablement partner, illustrates the impact that automating your sales methodology can have on increasing win rates while reducing losses and no decisions. While Group A realized improvements in all categories and increased incremental revenue, Group B suffered from old habits and failed to sustain what success they had.

As with any change, you’ll need to anticipate hearing “That’s not how we do things here” and be prepared to counter those objections with sound reasons to get in line, including not only benefits to the sales organization and company but also the individual sales reps.

Here are five reasons to automate the sales methodologies in your organization:

1.       Drive adoption of new behaviors enterprise wide.

You have just made a significant investment to improve an important sales process, such as opportunity pursuit or strategic account management. Presumably, these changes will benefit all sales groups throughout your organization, not just one small faction.

E-mails, webinars, and town hall meetings are all important to communicate what’s changing and why. But the fastest and most effective way to drive adoption and make the change stick is to embed the new behaviors directly into your CRM workflow. Design and install a new system, and then equip your team to execute the process face-to-face with customers.

2.       Improve sales force productivity and effectiveness.

Who are your star performers — the sales reps who consistently meet their numbers, make sales to your target customers, and build and sustain relationships beyond the transaction? What do they do that you can leverage across your sales force?

Use their successes to identify best practices within your organization. Then, rev up your content creation by producing thought leadership that all sales reps can use with their clients and prospects. Add it to your website and promote it through e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the like, and encourage your sales reps to share it with their connections. Build case studies that demonstrate how your company and services add value to its clients.

Do all of these things in partnership with Marketing. But most importantly, centralize this initiative! Otherwise, you lose the benefit of productivity when each unit produces their own, thus reinventing the wheel; wasting time, effort, and resources; and diluting your brand. If everyone tries to do their own thing, then no one gains.

3.       Improve usability, adoption, and data quality of CRM.

“Garbage In = Garbage Out” is alive and well! Your sales reps should take advantage of your CRM system and use it as an asset, from capturing and maintaining contact details in one place to integration with your sales funnel and business stats.

Fragmented sales organizations allow sales reps to store their contacts in Outlook, spreadsheets, and Rolodexes. This promotes the notion that contacts are the sales rep’s and not the organization’s. Squelch this mindset so that you and your sales force can use your cumulative data to your advantage. Otherwise, how else can you know or appreciate the full extent of your connections within a client company, industry, or geography? It reduces the need for duplicate entries (in local and enterprise systems) and fosters a healthier approach toward client management.

4.       Give sales leaders clear visibility into the adoption and the effectiveness of their strategic initiative.

Sales leaders don’t just want anecdotal evidence that their initiative is working, they want robust reporting capabilities that allow them to take the pulse of the sales organization when they wish — not just at the end of a sales cycle.

In addition to the sales figures and forecasts, it also lets them see who is using the system, how often, and for what purposes. If there’s a gap in use among a swath of sales reps, find out why and fix it. This might sound Big Brother-ish, but that’s part of the employer-employee relationship.

5.       Improve the overall odds of success and ROI of a change initiative.

Once you commit to a new system, the timetable for adoption should be ASAP! You’ll want to reduce or totally eliminate the lag time between your sales reps learning the system in training and then using it on the job. Evidence shows that we don’t easily absorb what we learn, and that of the things we do learn, we begin to forget them over time if not applied and used. Reference tools during process training for the new initiative and train on tools in parallel so that sales reps are ready to use them as soon as they return to work.

As the figure above shows, it is possible to turn a haphazard approach to selling into a more methodical, leveraged, and deliberate one that produces better results. Your change in win/loss rates should reflect the ROI in your investment, as well as improved no decisions.

Finally, it is important to recognize that different stakeholders will have different perspectives and expectations on automation:

  • Sales reps want a user-friendly front end and will resist something they view as pointless or bureaucratic.
  • Sales managers value robust reporting that will allow them to see what’s working and what isn’t and adjust as necessary.
  • Sales leaders expect more accurate forecasting, better sales funnel data, and better results for their efforts and expense in adopting the new system.

About Richardson - Win-Loss Review

Richardson: Sales Training and Strategy Execution – helping leaders prepare their organization to execute sales strategies and achieve business objectives.

About The Author: Dario Priolo

As Chief Strategy Officer, Dario Priolo is responsible for driving Richardson’s market, product, and corporate strategy and planning — sharing critical insights with clients to help them win in today’s changing market place. Dario gathers intelligence and market and customer knowledge to: drive Richardson’s innovation; ensure that Richardson offers the best and most relevant solutions for clients that exceed client satisfaction; and raise awareness of Richardson’s extensive capabilities with sales and business leaders.

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One Response to “5 Reasons to Automate Sales Methodologies and Take Your Sales to the Next Level”

  1. November 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm, Dave Stein said:

    I’m glad you see you highlighting the importance of technology-enabled selling, Dario. I agree with all your points.

    I do want to stress that the adoption rate of CRM systems alone, even if they are customized to align with a company’s selling process, is quite low among the companies whose sales effectiveness we have audited.

    A question we get quite often is, “How do we get our salespeople to use the CRM system?”

    The solution to achieving broad compliance is for the people who sell to have a tool that will help them sell more effectively and more efficiently and, most importantly, put more money in their pockets.

    CRM alone won’t do that. Front-end applications on top of CRM, such as you’ve described, can, and often do.

    [REPLY]

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